Embattled Mauritian President to resign, lawyer says

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Embattled Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim has resigned and is set to leave the office on Friday, her lawyer said on Saturday.

The resignation comes days after she refused to stand down as she denied any misconduct despite the claims that she had made large personal purchases on a charity bank card.

Her lawyer Yusuf Mohamed told the local media that President Ameenah submitted her resignation in the “national interest”.

The president has issued no statement on the matter.

According to local newspaper l’Express, Gurib-Fakim had used a bank card provided by an NGO to make personal purchases, including jewellery and luxury goods worth at least 25,000 euros, accusations she refuted vowing to fight them.

The newspaper reported that in February, Gurib-Fakim had used a credit card given to her by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in London to buy jewellery and clothes abroad.

The president who was serving as the NGO’s unpaid director had been given the card which was to be used to pay for the promotion of a doctorate programme named after her.

Her office said she “had an identical credit card from the same bank [and] inadvertently used the card from the PEI for expenses not linked to her mission” adding that $27,000 (£19,335) had been refunded and Ms Gurib-Fakim would defend herself with “legal action”.

A statement sent to the BBC indicated that Ms Gurib-Fakim had refunded the money to PEI’s Mauritian sister organization adding that it had given her a credit card to cover travel expenses while promoting African science, technology and innovation.

The country’s Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth had announced earlier this month that the president would stand down last Monday. She didn’t.

This raised concerns of a constitutional crisis on the Indian Ocean island nation.

On Wednesday, a statement from the presidency lashed out at “weeks of attacks and false allegations” adding that the president planned to clear her name and would not resign.

Ms Gurib-Fakim is a scientist and biologist of international renown who joined the London-based Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in 2015 to try to develop scientific capacity in Africa.

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